Not a Good Sign
When the PGA Tour's new policy on autographs—players are asked to sit in a tent for about 10 minutes after their rounds while fans file in after lining up outside—debuted at the Tour Championship last October, it worked with great efficiency. Two by two the 30 players in the field were escorted to the tent and after signing were relieved by the next pairing. Since then the Tour has left it up to the individual tournaments to implement the policy. Although several conscientious players continue to sign in the designated areas, noncompliance is widespread. "I won't do it," says Paul Azinger. "I will not go into a tent and get trapped there. Then when you do try to leave, you hear nothing but complaints."
Curtis Strange stopped using the autograph area after the Nortel Open. "It's not working," Strange says. "In Tucson 1 went to the tent and then ended up still signing after I left. It's a worthy experiment but needs to be fine-tuned. We need it because it's safer for the kids. I've seen them get run over by adults who want signatures."
Brad Faxon, a member of the Tour's policy board, thinks the policy should be scrapped. "I think it's ridiculous," he says. "I wasn't at the board meeting when they decided, but I would have been against it. You look like a fool sitting in a hut and having people line up."
Also some players have taken advantage of the situation by telling autograph seekers to wait until after a round and then not showing at the autograph area. Mark O'Meara, also a member of the policy board, says that he tells people to wait. "I hate to do it when it's kids and stuff," he says, "but I don't know of any other sport where autographs are allowed during the competition." He adds that he always looks for the designated area after his round, though sometimes it's not easy to find.
Davis Love III, a proponent of the policy and another member of the policy board, believes that effective implementation by the Tour would solve the problem. "Instead of getting a piece of paper that a player has scrawled his name on without even looking at you," says Love, "the fans get to make eye contact and have some kind of personal connection."
Most players agree that there needs to be some sort of policy, if only for players such as Greg Norman, Fred Couples and John Daly, who are regularly besieged. Commissioner Tim Finchem has asked for the current experiment to last a year. It hardly seems worth it unless the Tour takes firmer control.
Mechem Joins Palmer
"After the last five years at the LPGA and all the intensity of that job," says retired LPGA commissioner Charles Mechem, "I could take any regular job and feel like I'm loafing." Instead of taking it easy in a single job, Mechem, 65, has taken on two part-time assignments. (He also checks in two or three times a week with new commissioner Jim Ritts.) He will be a consultant to the PGA Tour on the development of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and, it was announced last week, he will be a personal business adviser to Arnold Palmer.
The Short Game
NBC golf producer Tommy Roy says that naming his recently born son William Augusta was not an attempt to curry favor with the Masters....